Tourism plan primary focus

 

 

Hope will establish a new Tourism Advisory Committee, while a proposed two per cent hotel tax remains up for debate.

An information meeting, held Friday by Advantage HOPE, brought the two topics to light as 15 people – eight from the hotel industry – attended the discussion. Both issues are part of the District of Hope’s five-year Tourism Plan, which was created in 2008.

“Tourism has been a steady, plodding horse … it doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” said Tyler Mattheis, executive director of Advantage HOPE, a recently formed economic development agency.

While the advisory committee was supposed to be the main topic of conversation, the hotel tax took up a majority of the debate.

The concept of a two per cent hotel room tax is not new. According to Mattheis, more than 50 communities in B.C., including Chilliwack, Harrison and Merritt, have already implemented the tax.

In order for the new fee to become a reality, 51 per cent of the hotels – totaling 51 per cent of rooms – have to vote in favour. There are approximately 20 hotels in Hope.

“Our goal is set on 12 hotels. We want about 60 per cent approval,” said Mattheis.

If approved, the hotel tax would be collected by individual operators and sent to the provincial government. The province returns the funds to the district, which would then give it to Advantage HOPE to be used solely to promote tourism in the area.

Mattheis estimates the tax could generate $60,000 a year and potentially be used to promote community branding, logo development, banners, signage and other tourism tools.

However, not every hotel is on board.

“Right now I’d say we are about 50-50,” he said.

The two per cent tax, in reality, becomes about a 2.25 per cent tax as the fee is applied to room rates and the HST charged.

“The tax gets taxed.”

One hotel owner who is against the proposal is George Rychter, owner of the Hope Travelodge. He believes it’s wrong to tax the public in order to help support his industry.

“We are big boys and girls. We should learn to operate our businesses on our own.”

Rychter doesn’t agree with the arguments that the tax will be good for the tourism business.

“Just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t mean we should. Where’s the advantage?”

He said if he put up a sign asking customers if they would pay an extra two per cent to help promote his business and his industry, “they would look at me like I was daft.”

If 51 per cent approval is reached and the other 49 per cent “get dragged along kicking and screaming, how is that building the community?”

While there is plenty of debate on the tax, Mattheis says it won’t go on forever. A final date will be set later this year and the tax will either be accepted or rejected.

“We will decide one way or the other. We don’t want to create ambiguity or uncertainty.”

As for the new Tourism Advisory Committee, Mattheis said it will consist of a maximum of nine members, and 40 per cent of the committee will be from the hotel industry.

Other  representatives will be from the Advantage HOPE, the arts council, the local chamber of commerce and other related sectors.

‘We want to grow the tourism Industry in Hope,” said Mattheis, adding the committee will meet four to six times a year.

Advantage HOPE is currently taking applications for board membership and will make a decision at its June 22 meeting.

Just Posted

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Most Read